Doublelift’s Legacy: The Past,
Present, and Future of Yiliang Peng
With playoffs a week away and no LCS games to look forward to this weekend, let us instead look back on the most storied and celebrated career in North American League of Legends history, the career of the one and only Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. In the final seconds of the final game of the 2016 Summer Split, Doublelift became the first North American player to reach 1,000 career regular season kills. He did so in epic fashion, with the entirety of his 17-1 Team SoloMid squad diving headlong into the fountain for him to reach the mark.
In an interview following the historic achievement, Doublelift proclaimed, “TSM all the way baby, we’re gonna’ win Worlds!” From any other player, this prediction may have appeared audacious, but uttered by Doublelift it comes as no surprise. A player whose greatest pride has come from proving his own abilities, Doublelift is historically bold and an infamous trash-talker.
His brazen comments do not always pan out; however, his confidence and fearlessness has made him almost certainly the best AD Carry in North America, and in the discussion for one of the best worldwide. Yiliang Peng, 23, was born in Mission Viejo, California, where he had humble beginnings on console systems, namely the Nintendo 64. He eventually moved on to PC games such as DotA and Starcraft 1, before focusing primarily, then entirely, on League of Legends. In early 2011, he impressed George “HotShotGG” Georgallidis not with his vaunted AD Carry mechanics, but with his Blitzcrank play. Georgallidis offered Peng a substitute roster spot on Counter Logic Gaming, which he accepted, only to leave several months later for a starting role on Epik Gamer.
As the starting support, Doublelift helped Epik Gamer take fourth place at the Season One World Championship at Dreamhack 2011 in Sweden, earning himself over $1,000. Shortly thereafter; however, he was kicked out of his home for playing games too often. With no job and minimal funds, Doublelift turned to Reddit, pleading for help in a well-written, thought out post that can still be found today. Travis “SotLTravis” Gafford, who was an interviewer for MLG at the time, answered the bell and allowed Doublelift to live with him rent free for a period of time. In 2011, Gafford began broadcasting the first League of Legends talk show, State of the League, on which Doublelift essentially became a co-host. During his year-long stay, Doublelift had brief stints on both UnRestricted Esports and Team Curse, while writing champion guides on the side in order to generate revenue and help pay rent.
In late 2011, Doublelift left Curse to become the starting AD Carry for CLG, where he found a home for four years. It was at this point, Peng claims, he felt he had truly arrived as a professional gamer. While the organization went through numerous roster changes during this period, Doublelift remained the one mainstay, playing with a host of different teammates. His first major tournament as a member of CLG was the IEM Season 6 World Championship in March 2012 in Hanover, Germany. The team finished in third place, falling 2-0 in the semi-finals to the eventual champion, Moscow 5, despite Doublelift posting a 6/1/6 performance as Caitlyn in the final game. Just one month later, CLG met rival Team SoloMid in the grand finals of the IGN ProLeague Season 4 in Las Vegas. Coming from the loser’s bracket, CLG was able to force a decisive second set, before ultimately falling 2-0. CLG would come up short against its North American rivals once again later in the year, falling in the final game of the 2012 MLG Spring Championship.
Meanwhile, Doublelift was making a name for himself as one of the premier AD Carry players worldwide. He recorded his professional first pentakill in the Champions Summer 2012 Qualifiers against PSW Ares using Graves. He broke out later in the year, recording three pentakills in the span of two days at the IGN ProLeague Season 5 Tournament. He recorded two of them on Ezreal and one on Caitlyn, as CLG went on to win all three games. Despite Doublelift’s heroics; however, CLG finished tied for fifth with its European sister team, and had not tasted a major international tournament victory since 2011. The team did, however, claim first at the National ESL Pro Series, featuring only North American teams. It was around this time that Doublelift famously said, half asleep, “I’m the greatest, everyone else is just trash.”
It was in 2013 that Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black joined CLG as a support, creating one of the most infamous duo-lanes in LCS history. It was not a harmonious marriage at first; however, as the team failed to capture even a second-place finish at any major event. In fact, CLG finished in fifth both the Spring and Summer NA LCS Playoffs of that year. Although the team struggled mightily in 2013, Doublelift’s stardom continued to grow. He was the only CLG player to compete in the 2013 All-Stars in Shanghai, China. He not only played, but logged yet another pentakill as Ezreal against Europe’s All-Stars. By this time, he had gained notoriety for his performances on Vayne in particular, seeming often to take on multiple opponents at a time with incredible outplays. Who could forget Rivington “Rivingtonthe3rd” Bisland III marveling at Doublelift’s kiting abilities versus Team MRN at MLG Dallas 2013.
While the organization then yielded several impressive results in 2014 (namely a second place finish at IEM Cologne), CLG’s true return to prominence came in the summer of 2015, convincingly crushing TSM 3-0 in the NA LCS Finals. In one of the best series of his career, Doublelift went a combined 23/7/33 in the three games, including a penta-kill as Jinx in Game 2. The victory earned CLG North America’s number-one seed for the Season 5 World Championship, and the team was at an all-time high heading into the event. On the prominent League of Legends talk-show, Summoning Insight, both Duncan “Thorin” Shields and Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles proclaimed Doublelift the 20th ranked player at the event, the only North American player to even make their lists.
After winning two of its first three matches at the World Championships, CLG proceeded to lose its final three, and ultimately fail to make it out of Group A. They were one of three winless North American teams in the second wave of pools, all of whom combined to go 0-10 that week. The defeat prompted Doublelift to name an alternate account “zero and ten”. Perhaps jest? Perhaps motivation? Regardless, the disappointment bred turmoil among the Counter Logic Gaming roster, which ultimately led to Doublelift being released on the very day Season 6 ended with SK Telecom T1 claiming it’s second World Championship in three years. He was not a free agent for more than a day as he joined Team SoloMid to begin a new era in the life of Yiliang Peng.
In the team’s first tournament with Doublelift on the roster, TSM finished third at IEM San Jose, with Counter Logic Gaming taking second. TSM fans did not have to be worried; however, as the new-look team did not yet have time to mesh. Doublelift’s time with KaSing as his support was short-lived, as he was soon replaced with European star Bora “Yellowstar” Kim. It seemed like a match made in heaven, as Yellowstar was a prominent support player coming off an 18-0 regular season with Fnatic. Things did not go as planned as TSM finished the 2016 Spring Split at 9-9, and just barely snuck into playoffs as the sixth-place team. The team’s talent ultimately prevailed when it counted; however, as TSM was able to knock off higher-seeded Cloud 9 and higher-seeded Immortals in the first two rounds, before once again meeting rival CLG in the Finals. The rest is history. Much was made of CLG’s new AD Carry, Stixxay, supposedly outplaying Doublelift in the epic five-game series ultimately won by CLG. As far as Aphromoo was concerned, this victory proved he and the organization made the correct decision in releasing Doublelift the previous fall. CLG went on to represent North America in the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational, finishing second only to defending World Champions SK Telecom T1. Far from demoralizing him, seeing his former teammates (and his replacement) having so much success on the big stage seemed to motivate and invigorate Doublelift more than ever before.
TSM entered this Summer Split with a vengeance, easily dismantling CLG in the opening series, 2-0. Doublelift combined to go 13/4/11 as Lucian, who has become his favorite and most played champion. Since that opening victory, TSM has not looked back, steamrolling the rest of the league to the tune of a 17-1 regular season record. With his newest support, Biofrost, Doublelift has had yet another amazing split. He is second only to C9’s Jensen in kills with 193, which puts him at exactly one thousand for his career. His 71 deaths is the least of any AD Carry having played at least 40 games, which demonstrates that he is playing safer than ever before. He even added a Sivir pentakill to his resume in the final weekend, bringing his career total to ten, easily the most all time.
In two weeks time, TSM will take to the Rift again as the overwhelming favorite to win the North American LCS and assure a spot in the 2016 World Championship. Although Doublelift was ecstatic about being the first LCS player to reach the one thousand kill mark, he is undoubtedly yearning for more. In his statement upon joining TSM, he noted that the organization had the same vision and goals for the future that he did. Finally, all the parts of the machine seem to be moving in the same direction, and Doublelift has his greatest chance to prove all of his doubters wrong once and for all. One thousand kills and counting, the best is yet to come for Yiliang Peng.
Written by Thomas Liljedahl
Edited by William “Williaf” Ferdinando